Sourwood Honey

Honey derived from the tree Oxydendrum Arboreum commonly known as sourwood tree is known as sourwood honey. This tree also known as Appalachian Lily tree grows up to 40 to 60 feet and bears pointed leaves with sour taste. It starts blooming in the end of June and continues in the month of July. The flowers are beautiful bell shaped and are present in clusters of at least 5-6 inches long at the end of branches. As it is very hard for the bees to find other flowers during the months of June and July honey bees obtain nectar mainly from these flowers and give you highly pure Sourwood honey. It is the popular type of honey produced in Eastern United States especially in Western Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and North Georgia. Lack of habitat and poor environmental conditions is reducing the production of the honey. To make this rare honey treat available for future generations the coal mining industry of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia are undertaking efforts to plant sourwood trees and other bee plants in thousands of acres and preserve the plant species.

Properties of sourwood honey

  • Light amber colored honey.
  • Possess aromatic flavor with a mix of caramel or butter flavor. Hence, best for baking biscuits and bread.  Leaves a pleasant astringent aftertaste.
  • Crystallizes gradually.
  • Has a strong sweet aroma.

Key Benefits of sourwood honey

  • Offers a variety of nutrients: Serves as source of various nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Being a rich source of calories if offers instant energy to the body. sourwood honey
  • Has antiseptic action: Like other honey varieties it also prevents bacterial growth. Hence, used in the treatment of cold and cough.
  • In cooking : The rich butter flavor makes it the best honey variety for baking needs. Substitute ¾ cup of honey for 1 cup of sugar to enjoy delicious recipes. This honey variety is the secret ingredient used honey barbecue sauce. Breads, muffins, cup cakes and pan cakes taste perfectly good when baked or served by covering with this honey.
  • Main ingredient of the summer drink switchell : In Appalachian Mountains a refreshing drink named Switchell is made using this honey and cider vinegar. It is made by mixing sourwood honey and cider vinegar in 1:1 ratio. Four teaspoons of this mixture is added to a cup of water to make the refreshing summer drink.

Purchasing sourwood honey

Being a very rare type of honey found mainly in North Carolina and produced during a limited period of year one should be very cautious while purchasing this honey. Pure honey can only be obtained from highly experienced bee keepers who time themselves perfectly to prevent bees from collecting honey from other varieties of flowers such as the Sunmac trees that bloom just before the sourwood. If the bees are brought late then they will miss the nectar. Choose suppliers only from the regions where it is produced. Read the reviews of the supplier before purchasing. As per the honey standard rules of North Carolina pure form of this honey should contain at least 51% of nectar derived from sourwood tree and should be free of additives or adulteration .

Naming of sourwood honey in different languages

  • French: Miel sourwood.
  • Spanish: Miel sourwood.
  • Italian: Miele sourwood.
  • German: Sourwood Honig.


Sourwood honey, rarely found honey with sweet taste is credited as the best honey in world at Apimondia world honey show. It is also a member of Ark, international catalog of endangered foods with best taste. Hence, try tasting this wonderful tasting rear honey variety offering various benefits and also tastes perfectly good when baked with cookies and cakes.